Acclaim is pouring in for Egyptrixx, a.k.a. Toronto-based producer David Psutka, whose celestial club music has provided a launchpad for his relentless sonic creativity.
Who: Toronto-based producer David Psutka a.k.a. Egyptrixx is an electronic music avant-gardist involved in increasingly diverse projects. A classically trained pianist who has studied neuroscience and holds a Master’s degree in journalism, Psutka has recorded as Egyptrixx since 2008.
Egyptrixx’ early EPs reflected an interest in dubstep (back when there was still some sense of adventure tied to the genre) and all things bass, but each subsequent release has revealed Psutka’s increasingly fine-tuned and nuanced approach to sound. In his debut album of 2011, Bible Eyes, Psutka managed to incorporate his love of techno, house, metal and melody into an exceptional whole that resulted in international acclaim and tour dates.
Psutka’s work and interests are multifaceted. The producer is involved in a steady stream of collaborative projects, including hotly tipped new duo Hiawatha, with friend Ian McGettigan, best known as the bassist in Thrush Hermit.
What: In his bio, Psutka describes the output of Egyptrixx as “Celestial club music; jeep music for a Saturn desert.” It’s fittingly ambiguous, yet accurate, as Psutka explores the spaces between sounds as much as he creates precise rhythms and song structures.
Egyptrixx makes music for headphones and dancefloors alike. On his debut album for UK indie label Night Slugs, body-moving techno-steeped tracks like “Bible Eyes” and “Liberation Front” later give way to deeply exploratory pieces including “Rooks Theme” and “Recital (b.version).” Drone or dancefloor, always there is more than a hint of darkness and dissonance.
As Pitchfork’s 8.1 review of Bible Eyes eloquently summarized, “This is an album that sounds invigoratingly abrasive when you’re moving and pins you to your seat when you’re not, a study in pushing the limits of distortion that works as just plain good club music.”
This could be a description of Egyptrixx’ output as a whole. Listen to Psutka’s recordings or live shows, watch a related video or even take in one of his DJ sets, and one always gets the sense that the producer is achingly aware of what he’s projecting at any moment. Psutka is meticulous, with the desired end result always in sight.
“I work in a structured way and focus heavily on parameters,” he writes by email. “On all platforms—especially in the Ableton/Photoshop era where you literally have an infinite number of options at any point of your process—they’re an artist’s best friend. With writing and production, I try to be thorough and think through most of the parameters—such as sound palette, mood, and structure—before I start. The rest is easy.”
The Egyptrixx videos that Psutka has commissioned from Berlin-based artist Andreas Nicolas Fischer a.k.a. DATDATDAT are equally exacting.
Why: Psutka has built steadily on the acclaim that poured in from prominent sources also including The Wire, Xlr8r, FACT, The Fader and Spinner. He’s spent much of the last two years travelling and touring, particularly to the UK where his music has been widely embraced by BBC radio jocks and clubbers alike.
In January of this year, Psutka unleashed an absolutely stunning remix of Massive Attack’s “Hymn of the Big Wheel”, which was widely and deservedly featured on music blogs and sites around the world.
“The guys from Massive Attack approached me to remix “Hymn” for what was meant to be a 20th anniversary reissue of [the band’s seminal debut album] Blue Lines and a remix EP,” explains Psutka. “I heard there were some scheduling issues and the record was never released.”
More recently, Egyptrixx’ original “Levitate” was selected to open German duo Modeselektor’s new headphone friendly Modeselektion Vol.02 compilation while Psutka himself has gotten more involved in producing music for others.
Egyptrixx is credited as producer of French rock band We Are Enfant Terrible’s new Slice of Life EP. Here, huge, deliciously messy beats meet infectious fuzz-rock, including on a cover of Rolling Stones’ “Connection.”
Psutka is no stranger to the rock, be it metal, psychedelic or folk-tinged. He’s also far from adverse to vocals, having featured Toronto’s Trust twice on Bible Eyes and collaborated with fellow locals Ohbijou on a beautiful interpretation of American ‘drone doom’ band Earth’s “Old Black.”
“Collaborating feels essential to me,” says Psutka. “At its most basic level, music is about the communication of ideas and feelings, full stop. Looking for ways to combine and interact on this level of is a natural thing to do. It’s also extremely fun.”
What’s Next: Open-eared music fans are stoked to hear more of Psutka’s collaborations with Ian McGettigan as Hiawatha. Hints of the collaboration emerged in May of 2011 when the two performed together as part of Egyptrixx’ live set at The AGO during the Abstract Expressionism exhibit launch party.
Their pairing makes perfect sense. McGettigan is a powerful bassist who also explores electronics and dancefloor grooves as half of Camouflage Nights. Both men can pack an immediate punch or take it slower and more psychedelic.
Hiawatha’s debut album, Language, was “Conceived in the fall and written in the winter,” according to Psutka, and will be released on Last Gang Records on September 25.
“Language is our take on a rock record. From a technical perspective, the songs were written and recorded the ‘old fashioned way,’ with guitars, drums, and keyboards. Conceptually, the band seems to exist on the border of competing forces: loud and quiet, concussive and tranquil, optimistic and pessimistic. So far, Hiawatha has been about working very hard to get to these places, and then seeing what happens.”
The album features songs including “Dogs of War”—which had its worldwide premiere on influential British DJ Mary Anne Hobbs’ XFM radio show on July 7—“Old Black,” and the jagged “Caring Less and Less to See and Know You.”
According to Psutka, “Hiawatha will be toured as a fairly traditional rock configuration, with drums, amps, guitars, etc. We wrote the record with this live setup in mind.”
A Hiawatha short film, created by DATDATDAT, is in the works.
Additionally, the producer expects to release Egyptrixx’ sophomore album, A/B til infinity, this winter.
“It’s almost done,” he says, also sharing that there will be a number of guest contributions. “Egyptrixx is and always will be an exercise in ‘club’ music, abstraction, recognition and minimalism. “A/B” is along these lines.”
Egyptrixx will debut a new live set at Mutek Mexico this fall, with European and American tour dates currently being booked.
Finally, Psutka will soon head to California to produce the next album by adventurous L.A. band Bestial Mouths.
When & Where: Egyptrixx plays a DJ set at Mansion’s Happy Endings #15 event, Friday, July 27 at 346 Spadina. He shares the bill with British producer and Hotflush label main man Scuba, and fellow local Exeter. $15 at the door.